Anne Macrae is a Scottish neighbor in Provence who shares my love of simple, big tastes. She served this luscious gratin one spring evening and explained that she devised the recipe when she and her husband, John, lived in an isolated part of northern Provence, in the Drôme. There were no fresh-produce markets nearby, but thanks to neighboring farmers she always had plenty of fresh goat’s milk cheese—known as <I>tomme.</i> Her larder was always filled with the meaty black olives from nearby Nyons, and wild herbs were as near as the back door. In summer months Anne prepares the sizzling, fragrant first course with fresh tomatoes, and in the winter months she uses canned tomatoes. That evening she served the gratin in the individual gratin dishes, but I suggested it might be easier to make one huge gratin and pass it around. "I used to do that," she countered, "but people got greedy and never left enough for the other guests!" So controlled portions it is! This dish lends
- add Equipment: Six shallow 6-inch (15 cm) round gratin dishes or one 10 1/2-inch (27 cm) round baking dishAbout 10 ounces (300 g) soft goat cheese or a mix of rindless soft goat and cow or sheep’s milk cheese, cubed
- add 1 1/2 to 2 cups (33 to 50 cl) homemade Tomato Sauce, at room temperature
- add About 24 best-quality black olives (such as French Nyons), pitted
- add 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried leaf oregano, crushed
- add 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
- add 2 teaspoons minced fresh <A HREF="/cooking/how_to/food_dictionary/entry?id=3007">hyssop</A> leaves
- 1. Preheate the broiler.
- 2. Scatter the cheese on the bottom of the baking dish or dishes. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon on just enough tomato sauce to evenly coat the cheese. Sprinkle with olives and the remaining herbs.
- 3. Place the baking dish or dishes under the broiler about 3 inches (8 cm) from the heat. Broil until the cheese is melted and fragrant, and the tomato sauce is sizzling, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Wine suggestion:
- Think of what you’d normally serve with pizza; a pleasant, vigorous red such as a young French Corbières from the Roussilon, a dry Italian red such as a Barbera d’Alba, an Australian Shiraz, or a California Zinfandel.